Survivor of devastating attack faces new setback

MANCHESTER, N.H. (WCAX) Another crushing setback for the victim of a brutal domestic assault. Carmen Tarleton has once again gone blind... 11 years after she was first injured.

Our Adam Sullivan has been following Tarleton's story for the last decade. He spoke with her Tuesday to learn about this latest challenge.

"When I was first injured, the hardest thing at 39 years old was to be completely blind," Tarleton said. "I was never accepting of that blindness then. And I was not expecting to go blind now."

Tarleton is not one to dwell on the negative. But as she teaches herself to use a cane at her new apartment in Manchester, New Hampshire, she says she is getting over a rough couple of weeks. The former Upper Valley nurse, who was attacked 11 years ago in a brutal domestic assault at her Thetford home, recently went completely blind.

"Honestly, the first few weeks, I don't know. I was frustrated, angry because I wasn't prepared. And I was shocked," she said.

Tarleton was doused with lye which burned nearly her entire body, including her eyes. Her sight was partially restored with surgeries but a synthetic cornea implant, which she received after her injuries, got infected last month.

"What this has shown me is I need to prepare," she said.

Which means Tarleton is, once again, learning how to cope on her own. On this day, it's a trip to the laundry room and back.

Doctors say they will have a better idea in six months whether her eye will heal and another cornea implant is possible. A face transplant that she received several years ago is complicating matters.

"It is really up in the air whether or not, with my immunosuppressive drugs, how well it is going to do," Tarleton said.

But as a forgiveness award sits on her windowsill-- yes, she has forgiven her attacker-- it's apparent life's beauty still lives within her.

Reporter Adam Sullivan: How are you doing now?
Carmen Tarleton: I'm doing good now. I'm more hopeful and learning what I need to learn.

And it comes with an added cost-- both with new medical bills and living expenses.

"Being completely blind, I need new software, I need new things, I need job training," she said.

Tarleton turned to New Hampshire's Vocational Rehabilitation Office for help but was recently told some bad news.

"I was told I was 478th on the list to be seen and that they might not even be able to see me until spring," she said.

In the meantime, her sister Kesstan helped her set up a Go Fund Me page. They hope to use the donations to ease some of the financial burden created by this latest setback.

"I have always just been so blessed and so grateful for all the help I have received and I have received a lot over the years," Tarleton said. "It really does fuel me and fund me to keep moving forward."

Click here to visit the GoFundMe page for Carmen Tarleton.